‘Nightmare’ for neighbours on Maple Ridge street

Cindy Caverley lives close to the emergency generator.

Cindy Caverley lives close to the emergency generator.

Like many residents along 119th Avenue in Maple Ridge, Cindy Caverley was happy to see the run-down “crackhouses” next to the Dewdney Place townhouse complex torn down to make way for Maple Ridge Seniors’ Village close to four years ago.

Her opinion, however, has changed, she says, after the seniors’ home installed a large diesel generator next to her home. A lack of visitor parking has also created  traffic chaos on the street.

“I call it the Nightmare on 119th street,” Caverley said.

The Maple Ridge Seniors’ Village was opened by private developer Retirement Concepts in 2009 and features 116 residential care beds, operated under contract with Fraser Health, as well as 83 assisted living apartments.

The large diesel back-up generator is located at the south-west corner of the property, close to the street and property line. The large beige structure dominates the view from Caverley’s balcony, just 15 metres away.

The generator is tested for an hour each month, and designed to provide back-up power to ensure life-saving equipment can still operate in a blackout.

A recent power outage triggered the generator at 3 a.m., and woke Caverley suddenly..

“It sounded like a 747 was coming through my window,” she said. “I was dead asleep, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Caverley’s neighbour Wayne Clark filmed the generator from her balcony during the generator’s test last week. The video shows the generator roaring and belching smoke, while a car drives down the street in reverse looking for a parking spot.

“On a nice Sunday, or Mothers’ Day, it’s madness down here,” he said.

Seventeen residents on the street have signed letters of complaint about the generator, which Caverley sent to the District of Maple Ridge.

However, the District has told residents noise bylaws don’t apply to the privately-owned facility. The seniors’ home is “considered in the same group as a hospital or health care facility, the noise bylaw does not apply,” stated Maple Ridge bylaws officer Derrick Keist in a response to Caverley’s complaints.

The seniors’ home already alerts neighbours as to when the generator will be tested, and has attempted to hide the generator behind a fence and shrubs.

Still, Clark said the facility should do more to mitigate the racket and smoke, and would like a sound baffle build around the generator, and to extend the smoke stack so it vents higher up.

“They aren’t being a good neighbour,” he said. “They are doing only what they have to and not what they should.”